ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has unveiled new guidance that will allow a limited number of spectators for high school sports, concerts, performances and other events, including those held indoors during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the guidance released Thursday, MDE recommends no more than two spectators per participant, and to limit total attendance based on the size of the venue and the overall state guidance for indoor and outdoor gatherings. Spectators are also expected to follow requirements for face coverings and physical distancing, including at least six feet of space between household spectator groups, and 12 feet between spectators and participants when possible.
MDE recommends advance reservations or tickets for venue seating, with names and contact information recorded for quick notification if anyone associated with the event contracts COVID-19. As a result, MDE suggests no walk-ins or impromptu ticket sales. In addition, the department recommends scheduled and staggered admission times, to minimize crowding at entrances and concession areas.
The Department of Education stresses in its guidance that gatherings of any kind will include a risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) said the new spectator guidance is effective immediately; however, it will be up to member schools to develop plans for their own events, which could include stricter limitations.
“School-based activities and athletics are an incredible experience for our students and we are excited that a limited number of family members will now be able to share in the experience of indoor activities, games and contests; we appreciate all that our member schools are doing in managing the academics and activities in this pandemic,” MSHSL Executive Director Erich Martens said in a statement.
Prior to the new guidance, no spectators were allowed for any indoor events.
The new spectator guidance comes as athletes are returning to competition, after the MSHSL board reversed an earlier decision to postpone the football and volleyball seasons until spring.